Baby Cakes 7, Cubs 3
Matt Juengel's two-run double in the second inning and Moises Sierra's two-run single in the third helped stake New Orleans to a 6-0 lead on Thursday at the Shrine on Airline.
The Cakes (6-9) took a 2-1 series lead heading into Friday's finale.
Odrisamer Despaigne (1-0) didn't allow a run until two outs in the fifth inning, when Mark Zagunis scored from third base on Bijan Rademacher's ground out to first base.
Brian Ellington, his pitches reaching 99.5 mph, struck out the side in the eighth. Nick Wittgren pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
Haines back in town
Andy Haines, who was the New Orleans Zephyrs manager for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, is back in town with the Iowa Cubs.
Haines was hired by the Chicago Cubs last season as their minor league hitting instructor.
“I wanted to see the Iowa Cubs pretty early, and they have good facilities here with the cages, so I knew I could get a lot done,” Haines said. “And, of course, it’s nice to see a lot of familiar faces. It just worked perfectly with my schedule.”
Haines spends 20 days each month on the road. On this trip, he will see all four Cubs minor league teams who are playing now. However, Triple-A Iowa has a number of top-tier prospects.
“A lot of them, it’s their first year in Triple-A,” Haines said. “(Infielders) Ian Happ, Jeimer Candelario, (catcher) Victor Caratini and (second baseman) Chesny Young — they are top guys at their positions.”
Happ, who leads the Pacific Coast League with six home runs, credited adjustments by Haines in helping him get off to a good start.
Haines oversees all of the organization’s minor league hitting coaches, and works with them to ensure that the Cubs’ philosophy on batting permeates the system.
“The Cubs don’t have a cookie-cutter approach,” he said. “They want to develop each guy for who he is, who can help them win championships.”
As a catcher at Eastern Illinois, Haines did not hit for a high average. However, he was the hitting instructor for the Miami Marlins’ Rookie League team in Jupiter, Fla., and there he caught the eye of John Mallee, who was the organization’s hitting coordinator. Mallee now is one of the Chicago Cubs’ hitting coaches and helped bring Haines in.
After last season, Haines received a Cubs World Series ring. It ended, of course, a 108-year draught.
“It set in when I got the ring of the journey I’ve been on,” he said. “I’m just a very small piece of this, but it was really nice to get one. I’d like to get three – one for each of my children.”
Haines returned at the start of the inaugural season of the Baby Cakes.
“I didn’t know what it was,” he said of the new nickname. “But they are selling a lot of merchandise, and it is a name connected with this city.”
Infielder J.T. Riddle was sent back to New Orleans from the Marlins. He was called up to Miami on April 9 after starting shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria was injured. Riddle went just 2-for-14 (.143) with six strikeouts. However, he hit a pinch-hit, walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Mets, 4-2. Riddle batted .429 (6-for-14) in three games with the Cakes.